Dementia and Alzheimer’s dramatically affect the lives of many elderly people. Along with memory loss and reduced mobility, many sufferers also experience issues with incontinence.
Not only can incontinence be frustrating and embarrassing for those with dementia, but it can also present a challenge for their carers and family members.
In this guide, we discuss the link between dementia and incontinence and how you can manage this issue.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury. It is most frequently seen in the elderly, but also occurs infrequently among younger adults. The condition typically creates memory problems and difficulties with everyday tasks. It can also cause personality changes and impaired reasoning.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It mostly affects older adults and can lead to confusion and anxiousness.
Incontinence and Dementia
Incontinence can be an issue for many people with dementia. Causes for this link include:
- Difficulty recognising the toilet;
- Forgetting where to find the toilet;
- Problems coordinating actions to use the toilet; and,
- Forgetting how to use the toilet.
For seniors with dementia, age-related health changes can also lead to incontinence issues. These include:
- Prostate or gynaecological changes, which can make seniors more susceptible to urinary infections; and,
- Medication side effects, which can cause diarrhoea or constipation.
Seeking Professional Help
If your loved one has dementia and is experiencing incontinence issues, you should visit their doctor, physiotherapist or a continence nurse. Arranging a continence assessment can be especially useful for determining the cause of the problem and formulating an appropriate management plan.
Bladder and bowel control check-ups typically include physical checks as well as questions about the issue, which are best answered by a carer. These questions cover topics, such as where and when incontinence occurs and the severity of the problem.
A doctor may also prescribe certain medications to help restore bladder and bowel control. These can include antibiotics to treat a bladder infection, hormone replacement therapies to help post-menopausal women control their bladder, and tablets to relax the bladder so it can store more urine. However, medicines for those with dementia should always be carefully monitored by both doctor and carer.
Alternatively, a doctor may choose to review certain medications already prescribed that may be contributing to incontinence issues.
How to Help a Loved One with Dementia and Incontinence Issues
Other than seeking professional help, there are ways to help a loved one with dementia who is also experiencing incontinence. Firstly, be sure to approach the issue with care and respect so that your loved one can feel comfortable and maintain their dignity.
Other ways to help include:
- Making sure they drink plenty of fluids for a healthy bladder and bowels;
- Limiting their caffeine intake;
- Making sure they eat enough fruit and vegetables;
- Watching for signs they need to use the toilet (fidgeting or wandering) and prompting them to go;
- Providing them with clothes that make using the toilet simpler, such as a skirt or trousers with an elastic waist;
- Ensuring the path to the toilet is clear, the door is easy to use, and the area is lit at night;
- Placing a note or picture on the toilet door;
- Keeping a diary of when your loved one uses the toilet or is incontinent and leading them to the toilet at these times;
- Establishing a daily routine for meals and toileting.
Incontinence products can also be used to improve your loved one’s quality of life and make caring for them easier. These items include incontinence pads and pants/underwear as well as bed pads and other bed-related products.
At BedGuard, we specialise in waterproof mattresses and bedding that can make dealing with night-time incidents quick and easy. Due to their liquid-repelling properties, our products prevent the absorption of fluids, making clean-ups a breeze, stopping stains and protecting your loved one against the health issues associated with sleeping in an unclean bed.
There’s no denying that caring for a loved one with dementia and incontinence issues is challenging. If you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out. Some resources available to you include the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 and the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
Incontinence is an issue that can affect many people with dementia. To make the clean-up of night-time accidents easier and faster, browse the BedGuard range of waterproof mattresses and accessories.